The Bylaws were written as a way to conduct the affairs of the church in a fitting and orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). While they provide structure and a method of operation, it is also intended to be broad enough to allow for some flexibility in how the Bylaws are executed to accommodate particular circumstances. Changes may be initiated following the procedure listed in Article 1.8.3, “Special Congregational Meetings.”
Membership of the Church
Individuals desiring to unite with the church should first speak to the pastor who will give them a copy of the church Constitution and Bylaws. Applicants will next attend a membership class taught by one of the elders. After completing the membership class, applicants will meet with at least two of the elders, and at least one other General Board member, who will interview each applicant, listen to their testimony and individual confession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and then determine their eligibility for membership. After approval by at least two elders, and at least one other General Board member, and barring any objection from the congregation, the applicant will be received into membership. The membership of non-attending members may be discontinued by the elders after prayer, consideration and having been contacted by the elders. Voting members are defined as those members who are resident and currently active in attending.
Members of the church under 16 years of age shall be considered junior members and will not have voting privileges until after their 16th birthday. The elders may, after prayer and consideration, move a member to a non-voting status. The member will be notified of the change. The elders will restore full voting privileges when the matter is biblically resolved.
The responsibilities of church membership are summarized as follows:
I believe that I have been led by the Holy Spirit to join this local church in its work, fellowship and privileges. I do solemnly agree before God that I will endeavor to conduct myself everywhere and at all times as becomes a true Christian (John 1:12; Romans 8:12, 13; Acts 2:41-47; Colossians 2:6, 7; 1 John 2:4, 6).
I will endeavor to manifest a spirit of brotherly love toward all of God’s people, striving to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. If I am aware that someone has something against me, I will go to that person to seek reconciliation (Matthew 5:23-24). If I have a complaint against a fellow member, or if I see a fellow member falling into sin, I will, after much prayer, follow the Scriptural procedures of approaching my fellow believer privately, and then with two or three witnesses before taking the matter to anyone else or to the church board (Ephesians 4:3; 1 John 3:14-18; Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1). I will seek, by the grace of God, to avoid those habits, behaviors, and attitudes which are inappropriate to the Christian walk, or which would render my testimony ineffective before the world (Ephesians 5:3-4; Philippians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; Titus 2:3, 11, 12).
I will attend the church services as regularly as possible (Hebrews 10:25). I will pray for the church, its members, its leaders and its work (1Th 5:25; 1Jn 5:16; Eph 6:18). I will use my talents and spirituals gifts for the good of the church and its ministries as God leads me (Act 2:42). I will contribute as God prospers me to the various needs of the church and its missionary outreach (Malachi 3:10; Luke 4:16; 6:38; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8; Galatians 6:6).
If anyone shall bring a charge of sin against another member, he will follow the Scriptural procedure of going to the member alone and then with two or three witnesses (Matthew 18:15-17). If the matter remains unresolved, the concerned member will bring the matter to the Elder Board. If, after careful review of the problem, the Elder Board agrees with the charges, they will designate certain pastors or elders to interview the erring member in love and for the purpose of restoration (Galatians 6:1). If the member should refuse to accept counsel, the matter will be referred to the church at a specially called Congregational meeting (Matthew 18:17). If the member repents, he or she will be restored to fellowship. If the member refuses to repent, he or she will be referred to the Elder Board for discipline. Discipline may include resigning positions of leadership or ministry, suspension of membership privileges or expulsion from the church in extreme cases where the testimony of the church in the community is threatened.
The government of this church is vested in the body of believers of which it is composed, subject to the provisions set forth in this article.
- The financial year of the church will close on March 31st. The annual congregational meeting will be held the last week of April at a time to be determined by the General Board. New officers will take over their duties on May 1st.
- All officers, committee chairpersons, group Bible study leaders and department heads will be members of the church. Non-members may be invited by the elders to teach on a temporary basis.
- The voting members of the church shall have final authority concerning all matters of the church.
The officers of the church are the fulltime pastor, the pastoral staff, the elders, the deacons, the church clerk and the treasurer. These individuals will comprise the General Board of Wonder Lake Bible Church.
The Fulltime Pastor
The fulltime pastor will be called by a vote of two-thirds of the voting members present and voting, or voting by absentee ballot, at a meeting called for that purpose (Article 3.C “quorum” does not apply; there must be at least 90% participation). He will perform the functions of the Christian ministry and is an ex-officio member of all boards and committees.
The fulltime pastor shall come under an annual review each January by the Elder Board and two members of the congregation to evaluate his past ministry and plans for the future.
A pastor’s term of office will continue until he resigns or is dismissed by two-thirds of the voting members of the congregation. The Scriptural procedures of Matthew 18:19, 20 and 1 Timothy 5:19, 20 will be followed. In the event of dismissal, a severance package will be determined by the General Board and approved by the voting members of the congregation.
If a pastor wishes to resign, he should give the church at least a two-month notice unless waived by mutual consent. He will submit his resignation with two-month notice to the General Board. The fulltime pastor will work with the Chairman of the Board to insure all personal property is returned to the fulltime pastor and all church property is returned to the church. The fulltime pastor will continue to preach each Sunday unless waived by mutual consent. Every effort will be made to transition the ministries of the church smoothly to a new fulltime pastor.
Should the office of fulltime pastor become vacant, a pastoral search committee shall be formed by the General Board. It will consist of three members of the General Board and three members of the congregation and formed to search for a new pastor. The committee shall create a procedure for finding suitable applicants and narrowing the list to a minimum of at least three candidates. They shall keep minutes of all meetings and report to the General Board at each regular monthly board meeting. Upon acceptance of the candidates, the General Board will meet in executive session. They shall determine which candidate will be presented first to the congregation. The congregation will vote on only one candidate at a time. An interim pastor, or pastors, may be appointed by the elders from without or within the church to carry out the teaching, shepherding, leadership and training duties of the pastor for whatever period of time the elders deem necessary. This person will be remunerated in such a way as is reasonable to the duties carried out.
When a fulltime pastor reaches the age of 55, he will present a plan for eventual retirement. At age 60, a fulltime pastor will present a plan to bring in an associate who will be trained in fulltime ministry. At age 65, a fulltime pastor will be prepared to take a lesser ministry role to allow another fulltime person to transition into a fulltime position. The details of these unique roles will be worked out between the fulltime pastor and the General Board and reported to the congregation.
The Pastoral Staff
The fulltime pastor is a member of the pastoral staff. The fulltime pastor will recommend to the General Board any additions to the pastoral staff. The General Board will consider such recommendations with the fulltime pastor. Should there be a desire to add a member to the pastoral staff, a search committee shall be formed by the General Board. It will consist of the fulltime pastor and two other members of the General Board. The committee shall create a procedure for finding a suitable candidate. With the approval of the General Board the congregation will have the final vote. After ascertaining the support of two-thirds of the voting members of the congregation present and voting at a meeting called for such a purpose, the Chairman of the Board will extend a call to the candidate (Article 3.C “quorum” applies). The pastoral staff will work under the fulltime pastor’s direction and will be accountable to the fulltime pastor and to the General Board for ministries, which the pastor and the General Board determine. Members of the pastoral staff will serve until they resign or are dismissed by two-thirds of the voting members of the congregation at a meeting called for that purpose.
- Members of the pastoral staff will meet the qualifications of an elder as described in I Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-3 and will evidence the spiritual gifts, knowledge of the Word of God and experience necessary to fulfill their designated duties.
- The pastoral staff will be considered elders of the church (Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Peter 5:1, 2). They will be responsible for equipping and mobilizing people to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:11, 12). Their duties may include preaching, teaching, training, evangelism, counseling, encouraging, admonishing, planning the church services, visitation, administration and any other functions normally pertaining to evangelical ministry. Division of responsibilities will be determined by the fulltime pastor and the General Board on the basis of needs, gifts and work styles with the fulltime pastor ordinarily being responsible for a teaching, preaching, training ministry. The General Board will review job descriptions for pastoral staff members yearly.
- All members of the pastoral staff will have the authority necessary to fulfill their responsibilities in accordance with their job description and to administer the day-to-day business of the church.
- The pastoral staff will be responsible to fulfill their individual ministries as stated in their job descriptions, to keep regular office hours, subject to revision in cases of need, to keep the General Board informed of the affairs of the church, and to gain the support of the General Board before implementing any major changes in procedures.
- Church Membership
- The fulltime pastor and the members of the pastoral staff shall automatically become members upon beginning their services to the Wonder Lake Bible Church. Their families will follow customary procedures for becoming members.
- The General Board shall consist of members of the pastoral staff, at least two elders, at least two deacons, a treasurer and a clerk. The elders, deacons, treasurer and clerk are all to be elected to two year terms by a majority vote at the annual congregational meeting. The terms will be staggered so that only half of the board positions will be voted on in any given year. A board member may serve two consecutive two year terms, but then must rotate off the board for at least one year. Regardless of which particular office a board member may hold, he or she must rotate off the board for at least one year following four consecutive years of service on the board. Pastoral staff members are exempted from term limit requirements.
- Elders must meet the qualifications as stated in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-3. Deacons must meet the qualifications as stated in Acts 6:3 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Those nominated as either elders or deacons must have been a member of the Wonder Lake Bible Church for twelve months (may include membership in good standing at former evangelical church).
- The officers of the General Board shall act as the trustees of the corporation. They shall meet monthly to conduct routine business of the church and shall keep a record of all business transacted.
- The General Board will coordinate the ministries of the pastoral staff, the Elder Board, the Deacon Board and all of the other committees and organizations of the church.
- The elders shall assist the pastoral staff including the serving of communion, visitation of members and the leading of fellowship groups. They will meet with the pastoral staff regularly for prayer, Bible study, training in ministry and spiritual guidance of the church.
- The deacons shall be responsible for all physical and financial matters of the church and the administering of the fellowship fund. They will arrange for the proper care and maintenance of all church property. They will operate within budget limits established at the annual meeting, but will be authorized to make all expenditures necessary for regular maintenance and repair of church property. The deacons are not permitted to make disposition of any church property, such as loans, mortgages, or sales of equipment except as directed by the General Board. The General Board’s spending limit is $2,000 per expenditure without congregational approval.
- The General Board is authorized to hire and dismiss non-professional staff members such as secretaries and janitors. The pastoral staff will determine the duties of the secretarial staff. The Deacon Board will determine the duties of the janitorial staff.
- The purpose of the General Board is to provide for the needs of the congregation.
- Approved minutes of the meetings will be available to the congregation. All board meetings are open to the congregation except for executive sessions involving church discipline or other sensitive personal matters. Board decisions may be overturned by a majority of members voting at a regular or special congregational meeting.
- Members of the General Board are accountable:
- to set an example of commitment to the church by attending all services of the church as regularly as possible;
- to support the church with their tithes and offerings;
- to participate in training classes as designated by the pastoral staff; and
- to fulfill their individual ministries as elected or as assigned by the General Board.
- Officers of the General Board
- All candidates for the office of chairman of the General Board must be over the age of 30 years and must have been a member of this church for two years. The chairman shall call all meetings and supervise and maintain order using Robert’s Rules of Order or an equivalent procedure prescribed by the General Board. All church and board meetings shall be called at the discretion of the chairman or when requested by the pastor, the General Board or 10% of the voting members of the congregation. He shall officiate at all General Board and Congregational meetings, except when being considered for personal discipline. In the absence of the pastor or a member of the pastoral staff, the chairman will officiate at Sunday services and act as an ex-officio member of all committees. The chairman shall serve as an elder.
- If the chairman resigns, he may continue to serve as an elder with the approval of the General Board.
- Vice Chairman
- All candidates for the office of vice chairman of the General Board must be over the age of 30 years and must have been a member of this church for two years. The vice chairman shall assume the duties of the chairman in the absence of the latter and shall also serve as an elder.
- Church Clerk
- The church clerk will keep the minutes of all business meetings of the church and General Board, preserve them and receive all other important papers and correspondence relating to the church.
- The treasurer of the church will keep and be responsible for all funds of the church treasury. The treasurer will keep accurate accounts of all receipts and disbursements and submit reports at the regular monthly meetings. Whenever so requested, the treasurer will promptly submit a financial report to the General Board. At the end of the fiscal year, the books will be closed, balanced and audited.
- Other Officers
- Other offices in the church, appointed by the General Board, and not included in the General Board, are as follows: Sunday School superintendent, head usher, financial secretary, junior church director, youth director, assistant treasurer and AWANA commander. Additional offices may be added at the discretion of the General Board.
The Elder Board shall compile a roster of voting members to be posted at least one month before the annual congregational meeting. All members in good standing should see their names on this list and should consult an elder in case of omission so that the situation can be reviewed.
Eight weeks before the annual meeting, a nominating committee will be appointed by the fulltime pastor and the chairman of the General Board to prayerfully recommend all candidates as church officers. The committee will consist of the fulltime pastor, one member of the General Board and two voting members of the congregation. A final slate of candidates will be presented to the General Board for approval. The names of members nominated for offices will then be posted in the church building by the chairman of the General Board four Sundays before the annual meeting. Other nominations may be made by any voting member at least two weeks before the annual meeting and be posted with the other nominees. The nominee will have been approached, and will have consented to the nomination, prior to posting in the church.
Twenty-five percent of the voting membership of the congregation (which must include at least fifty percent of the General Board) shall constitute a quorum unless otherwise stated in the bylaws.
Officers will be elected by secret ballot. A candidate must receive a majority of votes in order to be elected. If this does not occur on the first ballot, a second ballot will be cast for the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes. In case of a tie on any voting, a second ballot shall be cast. If the same result occurs, the chairman will hold one vote from the last ballot and then deposit it in the next and final ballot.
If death or any other cause prevents an officer of the General Board from performing his duties, the General Board shall have the authority to appoint a substitute to fill the vacancy until the next election of officers.
The General Board will determine the circumstances by which absentee ballots are given. The Chairman of the Board will distribute all absentee ballots in accordance with the General Board guidelines. Absentee ballots are valid only for the question being voted as listed on the ballot. In the event the question is modified in any way, or the vote is taken by some other means than a paper ballot, the absentee ballots will be void.
Settling of Disputes
In the event that a consensus cannot be reached by the Elder Board, the Deacon Board, or the General Board regarding any matter of church business, the board members representing either the majority or the minority view may request the chairman to call a special meeting of the congregation. This meeting must be publically announced at least two weeks in advance and with the purpose clearly stated. The congregation has the authority to resolve the dispute by a majority vote after both sides have presented their positions in an orderly fashion.
If a member of the congregation strongly disagrees with a decision made by the General Board, they may call for a special congregational meeting by following the provisions detailed in Article 1.8.3, “Special Congregational Meetings.”
When, in the judgment of the General Board, an individual is called to the Christian ministry, it shall be within the power of the General Board to instruct the fulltime pastor to call and conduct an ordination council of ministers. After thorough examination of each applicant to the satisfaction of the ordaining council, it shall proceed to perform an ordination service on his behalf.
Review of the Bylaws
Every two years, on even years, after the annual meeting, a committee shall be appointed by the General Board to review the Bylaws of the Wonder Lake Bible Church and to recommend changes or amendments. This committee will consist of one member of the pastoral staff, one elder and two members of the congregation. The committee shall make any recommendations for change or amendment to the General Board including any policies as are indicated by Article 9, Polices. If two-thirds of the General Board approve of the recommended changes or amendments, the proposed changes will be presented to the congregation in written form at least one month before the next annual meeting. A simple majority of the voting members attending the meeting and voting will be necessary for accepting such changes or amendments. Changes may be initiated at any time following the procedure listed in Article 1.8.3, “Special Congregational Meetings.”
The church will meet for worship services at times specified by the General Board. The pastoral staff shall have the authority and responsibility to plan, or to delegate the planning of, the worship services.
The annual congregational meeting will be held on the last week of April, at a time to be determined by the General Board, for the purpose of electing officers, approving the yearly budget and acting on other items of business as requested by the General Board or members of the congregation.
Special Congregational Meetings
Special congregational meetings may be called by the pastoral staff, the General Board, or 10% of the voting members of the congregation. These meetings must be announced publicly, and with the purpose of the meeting clearly stated, for at least two weeks in advance of the meeting date. Purposes for a special congregational meeting could include, but are not limited to, calling a member of the pastoral staff, disciplining a church member, voting on a major church expenditure, amending the Constitution or Bylaws or reviewing a decision of the General Board.
The fulltime pastor or the chairman of the board is authorized to call an emergency meeting of the congregation. All voting members will be notified by person or by phone with a letter following. The two week advance notice and posting requirement is waived in such an event.
The General Board will appoint such committees as are necessary to fulfill the purposes of the church.
The General Board will create policies to determine how the church will handle issues not listed in the Constitution or Bylaws. Policies are a statement of how the General Board and the church will conduct itself. Policies may be revoked or changed by a General Board vote. If members of the congregation strongly disagree with the policy, they may call for a special congregational meeting by following the provisions detailed in Article 1.8.3, “Special Congregational Meetings.” Policies will be reviewed by the Bylaws Review Committee to determine if any should be made a part of the Bylaws. Any new or revised policy will be publicly available to every voting member of the congregation. Notice will be given for at least two weeks in the Sunday bulletin.